hooked_science_644x362.jpgDespite the fact that 70 percent of Canada's top jobs today require science, technology, engineering and math, less than half of our high school graduates have senior-level courses in these subjects.

That's according to the study "Spotlight on Science Learning: The High Cost of Dropping Science and Math," conducted by the science education charity Let's Talk Science and biopharmaceutical company Amgen Canada.

"(In today's society) science and technology simply (aren't) seen to be as important as other things," says Bonnie Schmidt, founder of Let's Talk Science.

Young children start off very curious and interested in the science all around them, but they lose that as they get into the higher grades, Schmidt says.

“We’re all born scientists ... watch your toddlers experiment with floating and sinking,” says Cindy Adams, executive director of Scientists in School. "If you can hook that natural curiosity when they’re young and give them lots of opportunities to enjoy science and find it fun then they are going to continue. They’ll find science cool.”

explore_science_216x283.jpgSchmidt says parents and teachers also need to prioritize and foster the ability to ask good questions.

"Curiosity is fostered because you wonder about something and you are curious about something," Schmidt says. "And I really think science education lends itself to asking good questions.”

So what can be done to help keep kids interested and engaged in science?

Schmidt and Adams share their tips below on how you can find science in your everyday life.

Schmidt's Tips:
  • When at grocery store with your preschooler, point out what part of the plant you are eating;
  • Talk to your child in the produce section about why water is spraying over the vegetables;
  • Talk to your child about the wheels on the grocery cart;
  • Take a walk in the park and talk about different tree colours and shapes;
  • While your child is playing in the sandbox, ask him or her, 'what would happen if' and 'I wonder what would happen' questions;
Adams' Tips:
  • Get your kids to collect leaves and observe the leaves’ characteristics, including, shape, vein pattern and leaf edge;
  • Ask them to sort and categorize the leaves according to these characteristics;
  • Talk about the structure and physical properties of things like their creations in the sandbox;
  • Use the child's interest as a starting point and encourage their questions;
  • Give them lots of opportunities to explore indoors and outdoors;
  • Talk about what yeast does when you're baking;
  • Don't be adverse to them messing about and getting dirty;
  • Let them bring things from outside indoors;
  • Help them troubleshoot how to get answers to their questions.